AI in Education: Bowen and Watson Offer Teachers Practical Guidance for Using AI

AI is coming for education. Does it have to be a disaster?

As a part of our efforts to support scholarly work on the ethical and creative usage of technology in libraries and higher education, Choice highlights new and upcoming titles on this urgent topic through long-form reviews. In doing so, we hope to emphasize the importance of these issues and promising resources for addressing them. The following review considers Teaching with AI: A Practical Guide to a New Era of Human Learning (2024) by José Antonio Bowen and C. Edward Watson and also appears in the September 2024 issue of Choice and online. We hope these reviews will introduce new titles to our audience for their personal or institutional collections.

By David L. Stoloff

Bowen, José Antonio. Teaching with AI: a practical guide to a new era of human learning, by José Antonio Bowen and C. Edward Watson. Johns Hopkins, 2024. 280p bibl index ISBN 9781421449227, $24.95; ISBN 9781421449234 ebook, contact publisher for price.

This guide to how learning and teaching will be impacted by artificial intelligence (AI) by José Antonio Bowen and C. Edward Watson is a natural succession to their previous research and writings. Bowen, former president of Goucher College, is the author of Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (2012) and Teaching Change: How to Develop Independent Thinkers Using Relationships, Resilience, and Reflection (2021). Watson, Associate Vice President for Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation at the American Association of Colleges and Universities and former Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, is the author of Playing to Learn with Reacting to the Past: Research on High Impact, Active Learning Practices (2017). Together, they are the coauthors of Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Guide to Designing Better Classes (2017). Their new book, Teaching with AI: A Practical Guide to the New Era of Human Learning, comes at a time of increased questioning in K–12 and higher education about how AI tools will both disrupt and enhance student learning, faculty teaching, and relationships in any learning community.

This Practical Guide to a New Era of Human Learning is organized into three sections: “Thinking with AI,” “Teaching with AI,” and “Learning with AI.” The topics include current controversies that many educators are raising: how AI will impact the nature of work, literacy, and human creativity; cheating and detection; grading and redefining quality and feedback; role-playing with AI; designing assignments and assessments for human effort; writing and AI; and the uneasy tension between what to think (content) and how to think (process). The authors leave for their next books the question, “[C]ould the revolution of AI be our opportunity to reflect and reimagine how we could most benefit our students, our society, our species, and our planet?”

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This book succeeds at fulfilling its goals. The first section’s goal is to explain how AI works and what it is doing to the human experience. The second section’s goal is to explore how AI will eliminate some jobs and very likely change the nature of work for all. The third section discusses the nature of learning and teaching; how the current understanding of “cheating” may be considered collaboration in the future; and how instructors will need to reconceptualize learning assessment at a time when information is readily accessible but may be “hallucinatory.” This early-entry guide provides practical guidance for how faculty might adjust their practices to create prompts and assessments when AI detection software is not highly reliable and learners seek the path of least resistance to completing tasks. The authors also provide a list of diverse classroom activities and instructional design: AI as tutor; role-play; AI-assisted creation of video and podcasts; graphic novels; game design; social and peer work; and process assignments. Such applications seek to support more learner engagement and authentic assessment. These sections supporting curriculum development will be highly appreciated by faculty members who are convinced that students are using AI to just comply with assignments, but don’t know how it might be used in support of learning and assessment.

This book has been positively accepted as of this writing and has even inspired a book club led by the authors at the University of Massachusetts with educators from around the world. In Forbes, Mary Gasman writes, “José Antonio Bowen and C. Edward Watson are here to help faculty learn how to teach in the era of AI, and how to ensure that students are learning…. Although Bowen and Watson embrace AI and urge us not to be afraid, they encourage us to think about the restrictions, ethical standards, and policies that we need to put in place to ensure that we are in control and that misinformation does not run wild.”

This book is worthy of incorporation into an academic library’s collection and discussion in academic departments for their curriculum development. AI is and will be a tool throughout the functioning of a university and will have ramifications throughout society. Already, at least 12 states have already passed legislation to regulate artificial intelligence, and all concerned citizens should read this text.

With its catalog of strategies for using AI in an engaged classroom and its cautions on AI’s implications for academic conduct and student learning, Teaching with AI predicts change in the values and goals of higher education. Reading and discussing this text with students, faculty, and university staff and administrators will, as the authors suggest, serve to “prepare students for a world where collaboration with AI is required rather than prevented.… [H]elping students leverage AI to produce better work should become a signature pedagogy of higher education.”

Summing up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; practitioners; general readers.

Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Education

David L. Stoloff is a Professor of Education at Eastern Connecticut State University, with a specialty in educational technology and the social foundations of education.

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